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fully the responsibility of mao and the communist party. it's about fifty minutes. [applause] >> it's an honor to be here tonight, and to have the opportunity to interview mr. yang about the remarkable book. we're going talk for a little bit between the two and a half of us, the three of us. [laughter] and then we're going to open it up to your questions, so as we are talking up here, have in mind questions you have for
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mr. yang. >> the title of the book is "tombstone: the great chinese famine, 1958-1962". please explain why you gave the tight to the book. >> translator: there are reasons for naming this book "tombstone." the first reason is i would like to erect "tombstone" for those who died. [speaking in foreign language] >> translator: the second reason is for my father who died in starvation. [speaking in foreign language]
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>> translator: the third reason to erect "tombstone" i want to erect a "tombstone" before the downfall of the system that caused the great famine. [speaking chinese] >> translator: the fourth reason, actually is "tombstone" is also for myself. because of -- i knew it was a dangerous job to write a book like this, so i erected a "tombstone" for myself just in case. [laughter] [applause]
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it's best to live a full life. [speaking manadarin chinese]. >> tell the story, the very sad story you discovered the famine and how it affected your family. [speaking manadarin chinese] it was the spring of 19y at.
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[speaking manadarin chinese] >> translator: my high school, which was the only school in the county was ten kilometers away from my village. [speaking manadarin chinese] and >> translator: and asked me to take some rice back home to visit my father. >> translator: i went to the calf cafeteria to stop my ration for food for three days so i could take 1.5 pounds of rice back to my dad. [speaking manadarin chinese] >> translator: for the public schools, we were guaranteed some food.
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[speaking manadarin chinese] >> translator: after i gave my father the rice, my father urged me to leave. [speaking manadarin chinese] >> translator: i got some wild vegetables and had the wild vegetables. [speaking manadarin chinese] >> translator: i didn't realize my father was in such a serious condition, he could not eat the rice at all, and he knew he was dying, so he urged me to leave then he saw neighbors that
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don't tell me the news of my dad of his death until he passes away. [speaking manadarin chinese] >> translator: i didn't return home again until a few days later when my childhood came with the news. i went back and my father was dead. >> you did not realize at the time that this was a wider problem? [speaking manadarin chinese] >> translator: i thought it
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was because -- my school and the county away from home. i was not around to dig out wild veggies to feed him. >> when did you realize it was a big problem, and not just a problem in your village? [speaking manadarin chinese] >> translator: in the middle of the culture revolution. [speaking manadarin chinese] [speaking manadarin chinese] >> translator: in the middle of the cultural revolution, the governor of my province was
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criticizing me -- of the problems blaming him and that was the time when they disclosed a -- [inaudible] [speaking manadarin chinese] >> translator: disclosed the figure that 300,000 people had died of starvation in that province alone. >> and was that number accurate? [speaking manadarin chinese] >> translator: much. >> what was the real number? [speaking manadarin chinese] >> translator: i estimated an figure between 500,000 and 600,000. that was only in your province. [speaking manadarin chinese] >> in the nation, what is our best estimate of how many people died in the famine?
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[speaking manadarin chinese] >> translator: my estimation would be 36 million. >> 36 million. unbelievable. incredible tragedy. so many people think of famine as being caused by a bad harvest. [speaking manadarin chinese] >> in this case you blame political forces. explain what caused the famine and the starvation and the tragedy. [speaking manadarin chinese]
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>> translator: natural disasters. [speaking manadarin chinese] [speaking manadarin chinese] my conclusion there were, sure, there were natural disasters every year. those three years the climate was normal. >> the climate was normal in 1958, 1959, and '60, '61? [speaking manadarin chinese] >> translator:' 59 and '60.
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[speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: the several debt of tens of millions of people. there were not -- [inaudible] they are not evil either.
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[speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: they are very efficient revolutionaries. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: they just thought by designing the system, by putting the -- under a collective economy they could bring great results. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: they are stripped everybody's freedom. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: nobody has a
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freedom to find food . >> to grow food. >> translator: to grow them and find food according to their own effort. >> so they collectivized -- they collectivized farming. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> took away the incentive to grow -- [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: dismantled individuals and individual house hold as production units. >> there was grain in the agricultural areas, but it got sent away; correct? [speaking mandarin chinese]
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>> translator: the grain production is -- [inaudible] the grain production was rejuiced by huge -- reduced by a huge amount. they took away the incentive, as you said of production. >> they also took it away. the grain itself? correct? they took it to the city. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: so the government simply took away the harvest, the yields of all of it. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: then they redistributed it to people. >> and it reminds me of the tragedy in the soviet union of the ukraine very similar how
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things happened. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> right? very similar? >> translator: yes. >> and so while the fall min was going on, -- famine was going on, while the famine was going on, it was hard to get information about what was happening. and the government tried to suppress the knowledge; correct? [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: the only phrase, they were full of praise about policy. they only said good words about the what was happening. >> and -- [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: and the -- [inaudible] as well. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: and the bragged about the situation and said we
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have a huge surplus of grain. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: and actually mao was worried about a -- [inaudible] >> people who tried to spread the knowledge about the famine to other people, what happened to them in the beginning? [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: mr. taylor that people in -- in the county they were not allowed to write letters. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: the government
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actually -- they con if confiscated. they held 12,000 letters. >> from people that was writing about what happened. >> >> translator: the post office worked with the public security, the police. they held those letters. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> those were sent from above to visit. they were not allowed. [speaking mandarin chinese] gloitd so when the officials were sent above to visit, and they were told to walk -- with the straight back and not even allowed to use walking canes. >> i'm going to read a quote from the book, which to me, captures the incentive of this
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kind of political system, and why evil and disastrous effects can spread. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> if you didn't beat other, you would be beaten. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> the more harshly you beat someone -- [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: yeah. as i wrote in the book, those who died in the famine, sure, some died in starvation, some people were simply beaten to death. >> for trying to eat to try to get food; right? to try to spread the information? [speaking mandarin chinese] gloitd when they tried to get
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some crops, something to eat from the field, they were beaten. if you didn't beat others you were a right deviationist. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> and soon be beaten by others. spapg spank. >> it's very hard to be a good person in such a world. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> so good people either went
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quite; right? or became bad people? [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: the food meant to be allocated to them and they would get that -- reduced. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: because none of the families were allowed to cook at home. everybody had to eat in the commons cafeteria. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: they were waiting at the gate at the front door of the cafeteria, the kitchen, they were not allowed to go in to eat. they literally -- [inaudible] in starvation. >> in your book, you describe as
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a young man that you were an idealist, you were a good communist, yet at the same time, you describe the fear that people had of the government. i'm curious how you reconciled those two forces. idealism and support for the system, with the fear that the system intimidated and scared people and sometimes killed them. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: at that time, my generation would be brainwashed with one belief, which was communism. that was the only.
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[speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: the information available to us was what the government wanted us to know. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: those who disagreed with the government were persecuted. >> translator: we believed in communism and thought communism was great. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: on the other hand, we're really afraid of frightened of we witness the persecution of the noncommunism staff. [speaking mandarin chinese]
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>> translator: it was everywhere even to how the participants educate children. their principal of education educating their children teach them how to obey. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: even if i had any thoughts, any disagreement in my mind disagreement with the government in my mind admitted feel the fear, and i would stop -- [inaudible] >> so there came a point when you realize that something very, very bad happened in china's past, this famine, and you started to realize that things had been very bad, very wrong, were you afraid to bring this -- write this book?
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[speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: i had a sense of danger. in my explanation of erecting this "tombstone" for myself. yes, i had -- [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: if i written the book thirty years ago, i wouldn't be here. i would have been executed. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: if i had written the book twenty years ago, i had would have been jailed. [speaking mandarin chinese]
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>> translator: i'm not facing execution or jail time, there's a fear of being marginalized and persecuted. >> thank you, again for your courage. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> i want to shift gears a little bit, change a little bit, and talk about hayek. as john taylor said, this book illustrates many principles. one of the most important is the idea that experts can steer an economy from the top down, and plan things and understand how things are going to turn out, and i'm going give my favorite quote. i'll give rose a chance to translate. first you can pass it on and then i'll give the quote.
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[speaking mandarin chinese] >> he wrote the "curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really understand about what they imagine they can design. and i would love for that quote to spread through china in any language. [laughter] but the point of that quote, the curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really understand about what they imagine they can design. and it's one way of capturing what john taylor mentioned about the unimaginable, unintended
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consequences of this kind of tragedy. [speaking mandarin chinese] [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: politics in china they think they can design a society. [speaking mandarin chinese] [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: the
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state-planned economy. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> tell them it's not only a problem in china. [laughter] >> translator: that's what he said. the soviet union. >> we still have the problem. [speaking mandarin chinese] [laughter] [laughter] >> translator: the state-planned economy, the system started from karl marx, was introduce to the soviet union then brought to china. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> >> translator: i wrote another book how impossible they -- [inaudible] [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: the national
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economy is a complicated fluid system. which changes every second. [speaking mandarin chinese] expwhroit >> translator: the plans cannot go with the changes. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> >> translator: each and every five-year plan from the china government had been a failure. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: every time when the failure happened with those huge waste of resources. >> reminds of the stimulus plan -- [laughter] , you know, if we didn't enact it would go to 8.5%. we did enact it and it went to 10. [speaking mandarin chinese]
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>> translator: the planned economy really it was provided the political base and system for a dictatorship. it's about abandoning the government. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: it's the government with the -- [inaudible] [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: every manager and everybody in the management everybody in the production had to carry out such orders. >> translator: under such circumstances, it's impossible to talk about freedom and democracy. [speaking mandarin chinese]
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>> translator: so that's why at that time such expansion of political power extended to every frangt i are, every school, every inch of the land, every farm, every village, every school, everybody's mind, and everybody's thoughts. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: each individual stomach held and what they were thinking each individual's thoughts were controlled by the government. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: that's why i call it totally tieryism. that's when the power expanded
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to the very extreme. >> hayek argued in the totaltarian system, the worst people rose to the highest ranks was that true in the 1950s in china, do you think? [speaking mandarin chinese] [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: at the time in this to totaltarianism those who -- those who disagreed they were demoted or persecuted. [speaking mandarin chinese]
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>> translator: we were talking about the -- [inaudible] was promoted and limited and demoted. >> when did you first discover hayek? [speaking mandarin chinese] [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: for a long time, none of hayek's books were translated in to chinese in china until in 1962, a professor from the propretentious university translated it. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: the comparison of the two was elited. [speaking mandarin chinese]
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>> translator: the translate was translated for top leaders as internal reference, not for the public. >> but you have the road to serf come right there? [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: this was published in 1997. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: at that time i was researching the great famine. through this book i deepened my understanding of the great famine. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: on the other hand, my research on the great famine in my understanding of hayek. >> and are people aware of hayek in china today? [speaking mandarin chinese]
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>> translator: many people adopt. but the economists know. >> okay. now, i'm going to ask mr. yang one last question, then i'm going to open it up to your questions. mr. yang told me before he doesn't want to taunt -- talk about american politics. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: i don't know american politics. >> right. i'm going ask you a question about chinese economics. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> which is that in the early 2002s you about chinese stimulus packages and economics. i would like to hear your opinion of the impact of cain policy in chinese. we're not going talk about the united states. john taylor is here for people who are interested later. in china, the policies were put in place. there was a lot of building and
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investment. what happened? [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: the former premier -- [inaudible] was in office back then in the late 1990 when the asian national crisis happened. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: through issuing government bonds, they -- they accumulated the money, then they conducted the government investment. >> in real estate and buildings;
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right? [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: railways as well. >> so-called infrastructure, if i might choose that american word. >> translator: yeah. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> how did it turn out? [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: china avoided the national crisis. >> but there was a problem? [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: a lot of hidden problems in chinese economy. >> i think you have said that some people became addict to the economics? [speaking mandarin chinese]
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>> translator: i was worried about the government relying on -- economics too much. so i wrote an article on the dependent of it. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: he said just a temporary policy -- [inaudible] [speaking mandarin chinese] [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: so that's why five years after started the economics, and i wrote that article and warned them.
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i said, look, the government is addicted. [speaking mandarin chinese] and of course it was not very happy about it. [laughter] [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: when i was meeting a dozen economists i was not present. he held up my article and asked the economists and asked who is this young yang jisheng? [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: one of the economists -- this is yang jisheng he's a senior economic comment at a at a -- [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: and said he's -- [inaudible] [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: and protected me. [laughter] [speaking mandarin chinese]
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>> translator: so i was not persecuted. >> any man can oppose -- let's -- [applause] [applause] the order of principle of complexity, as he said interacted with his understanding of the famine. helped him understand hayek and hayek helped him understand the famine. [speaking mandarin chinese] please wait until the microphone comes to you. >> thank you for your insight.
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speaking of china today, as you made out, standard measures of economic freedom of the greater student by "the wall street journal" said there has been a dramatic increase in china over the last thirty years. it's been accompanied by a tangible improvement in the standard of living. do you think that both those things are true? both that there has been progress in economic freedom over the last thirty years, and increase the standard of living over the last thirty years that is tangible and noticeable, and second, do you have an optimistic outlook for china over the next twenty/thirty years? do you believe that progress will continue for china? if indeed you believe progress has been occurring? [speaking mandarin chinese]
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>> translator: we have made huge progress in the china's economy, over the last thirty years, of course. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: the average growth raid of gdp over the last thirty years has been around an average of 9.8%. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: that's why china is the world's number two economy. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: and the standards of chinese with different levels had --
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[speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: and we see huge changes in rural china and urban china and such huge changes and bigger than any changes in america. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: since my first visit to new york in 1995, i haven't seen much change. [laughter] >> the drinks are getting smaller. [laughter] [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: for example, the high speed rail that's been built between beijing it only takes about thirty minutes. to travel. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: several hours to travel on high speed rails.
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[speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: but travel from washington, d.c., to new york the train is very slow. [laughter] >> and the wi-fi is mediocre. >> we have time for one more question in the front. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: sorry, not yet. but there are deep problems in china's economy. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: because such growth, really is mainly from government investment. [speaking mandarin chinese]
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>> translator: the manufacturing sector has surpluses and more, much more than the demand from the market. and a lot of missionaries and equipment are lying in their idle. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: and they are having a lot of products stored away and cannot be sold. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: so but the thing is such idle not used equipment, missionary, and those goods, those products, which have not been sold and sitting in a warehouses they are also including in the gdp. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: and this is the result of government investments.
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wouldn't be like -- if the investments are mainly from individuals. from people. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: so the government has been doing what they have been doing instead of raising the standards of science and technology. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: the second reason is to keep the wages low. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: so the increase of gdp we see the reduction of workers' wages. and the third reason is that all of this gdp growth can add a
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prize of the destruction of the environment and the resources. [inaudible] natural resources. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: and the wide spread from the waste of the factory in to the environment without any environmental protection. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: we're talking about the rivers -- big rivers, small rivers, the lakes are being polluted. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: and the groundwater has been pollute as well. [speaking mandarin chinese] south soil has been polluted. [speaking mandarin chinese] so now we see the grains toxic
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grains. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: this is the price of a high gdp. it's not suspendible. cannot be suspend. >> translator: the government has been saying they should change the mode of economic growth. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: raise the standards of science and technology instead of increasing a scale. [speaking mandarin chinese] but it's very difficult. [speaking mandarin chinese] sphwhroit because the government has been claiming this is market economy with socialistic characteristic of actually -- it is what i call power market economy. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: power. the power. those were in power controls the
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market. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: every county government is a company. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: every professional government is an enterprise. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: so that's why they are increasing the scale. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: and the government can get cheap loans from the bank. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: and the chinese don't have social security. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: and very low welfare. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: so the chinese -- they keep putting money in their bank. they keep increasing their savings.
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[speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: and the government can use the people's savings. we're talking about thousands of billions of yen. people's saves. the government uses it as its own free will. [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: the ministry of railway for the government -- [speaking mandarin chinese] >> translator: 1700 billion. >> that's why we see this huge growth, huge development of high speed rails. >> we are out of time. i want to thank mr. yang. [applause] >> is there a non-fiction author or book you would like to see featured on booktv?
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send us an e-mail@booktv at or tweet us at talking to us about the activism of -- a biography who was a lifelong educator and civil rights activists. and my book is about her educational activism, both prior to and during and after the civil rights movement. i was interested in telling her story because she was a very important person in the civil rights movement. but she was also important
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before that. she was nearly sixty years old by the time she did what she's most well known for, which the citizenship education program. citizenship schools. so as i got in to researching this book, i was like, what did she do from twenty to sixty? what did she do that prepared her to do this? what does it tell us about the deeper root of the movement and women's roles in it? and then her schools were sites primary sites of women's activism during the movement too. looking at this one figure the way to tell a longer story about the civil rights movement, but also about black women's activism across the 20th century. so she was born in charles stone in 1998, her father was a slave, and her mother was a free woman who had been raised in haiti part of the time, also born in
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charleston. she started her teaching career in 19167 in a rural school. a island off the coast of charleston. she continued her career in urban schools in south carolina, spent most of her teaching career -- all of her teaching career in south carolina. then in 1956, the state of south carolina passed a law forbidding state employees from belonging to subversive organizations such as the naacp. she lost her job, and her retirement and then she developed a citizenship education program to be used during the civil rights movement. so the citizenship schools were designed to enable fors in the south to learn to read and write so they could pass the literacy test required by southern states to register to vote. but beyond that --
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so they had a practical literacy component. beyond that, clarks' curriculum taught people about political literacy and economic literacy. so for her the focus -- the first hurdle was registering to vote. but the real job was coming to understand citizenship responsibilities, and then using the vote to bring improvement to your local community. the ostensible first goal of the school was to pass the literacy test and register to vote. each southern state had a different literacy test that usually required applicants to read a section of the state -- read and interpret a section of the state constitution to the satisfaction of the registrar. it was always a white person who could find anything to say that -- wasn't good enough.
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you had to sign your name on the form. that was the first step and it was a concrete goal. once people were able to do that, they could imagine doing other things as well. it's like this practical literacy gave people the self-confidence they had otherwise lacked because they had been dependentn't own other people because they read for themselves. how the citizenship schools worked -- highlander oversaw them from 1957 until 1961, and at which point it transferred the program to the southern christian leadership conference which was dr. king's organization. from there the program spread throughout the south. how they did this, they had community organizers identifying people who would most likely make good teachers in their community. they looked for people with ph.d. minds who had never had a chance to get an education.
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so of it very grassroots. and they would bring people to a weak long workshop where they would teach them how to teach the classes, how to recruit students, how to gauge peoples' educational levels, and how to identify what needed doing in the community, and then start to work on that problem. another part of the gene use of the citizenship schools that few moderate white southerners could argue against teaching semiliterate african-americans to read and write. so segregation actually at times provides a camouflage. white people don't know what is going on in the classroom. it's only once people who pass through the schools put what they learned in to practice that white people start to figure out these schools are a source of
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the problem. so the genius is that segregation provides cover. but the schools are funded by private foundation, and teachers receive a small stipend for teaching. they meet two nights a week and usually run for five or six weeks, e then everybody goes to attempt to register. they are learning how to read a tax bill if they own property so they don't lose it for not paying their taxes; right? they are learning all the other skills that can be applied beyond going vote. that's the significance. and throughout her life she was part of a networking of black women activists in the south. so people that she knew were people like el will --
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ella baker. she metro is a parks -- met rosa parks where they developed the school initially. four months after parks left high lander is the day she refuses to move from her seat on the bus; right. there's a lot of behind-the behind-the-scenes going on in the movement before things emerge to public view. and clark was a big kind of behind-the-the scenes person preparing people to take action through her education program. as far as things that people don't know. i don't think that many people know of her. clark's first took political action in 1919 after world war i. she joined the charleston naacp
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to force charleston to hire black teachers in the black schools. public schools, because they only had white teachers at this point. and so she joined early, and she kept not an unbroken chain, say. she had bad experience. through bad experience she kind of set the pattern she would follow throughout her life. to advocate on black women and their professional options, but also on behalf of black children. it was through employment and political education. it ebbs and flows over the course of her life been it's always there. one thing thing is important
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that clark recognized is that -- she said one time it's like the peddle throne in the -- thrown in the pond. i think it was a lifelong approach for her. it shows her wisdom. ..


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